What is a database? Why is it important for business? Two important questions we are going to briefly demonstrate in this article. We are going to show by examples how we may benefit from the database in data entry, searching for information, categorizing different kinds of data, and generating useful reports by connecting particular data categories.
The database is information stored in a computer in an organized structure so that it can be searched in different ways (Cambridge Dictionary). Basically, the database is tables that sort data into columns and rows. Columns are for labelling different kinds of fields, for example, name, age, city, etc. While rows are reserved for records that save the same data labelled in columns but for different entities, for example, persons, see the example below.
Practically, we sort all relevant information that needs to process during our daily basis office activities into various tables. Then we may generate queries (on-demand tables) using data from one or more tables. For example, if we have a table for identity information of students and another table for average grades of students, we may generate a new query for students’ contact information along with their average grades. The concept seems simple but it is a powerful tool to store, search, and secure information.
How does database application make this process easy and efficient? Companies, for example, get a program works on a personal computer. This program has Forms for data entry, where you can find fields to fill out and save. These forms may show you only one record at a time or a spreadsheet includes all records. They serve for easier data entry, where you can enter the date, for example, by selecting the required date from calendar show up in this field whenever you click on it. Another example, a field for phone number will save the phone number in a certain format that is easy to read, or that give you error message if you entered less digit for a local phone number. Another field may show you a list of items to select from instead of typing it. Some other fields will give error message if there is the same exact record previously stored in the table that helps not to enter repetitive records.
How can we make use of all of that? The benefits of database programs can be briefly listed below:
- Better quality and easier data entry forms using a calendar, drop-down list, checkbox, radio button, combo box, etc. it also minimizes the typos and human errors.
- Continue to build and update the data every day and utilize this as a powerful advantage that is converted into know-how by time.
- Better sharing of information considering the multi-user environment is more effective in data entry, update, and usage.
- Security of data, database program saves the tables (database back-end) in a secure place that is back up the data frequently and abled to restore old versions in case of technical or human errors problems.
- Multi-level users feature allows different users to have different forms of data entry, and/or accessing certain data according to their role.
To conclude, building a database for businesses from the very beginning of starting their activities is a competitive advantage to enter, search, and update the data they get every day. This data when it well designed and categorized will serve as a knowledge that is accumulating on a daily basis. It can be easily shared by others; minimizes the cost and time wasted in communication and in searching for information.